2. Overview Of Responses
2.1 This section gives an overview of the responses received to the consultation, and considers the introductory and general comments submitted by some respondents.
Profile of respondents
2.2 A total of 116 responses were received by the Scottish Government, 101 submitted by groups or organisations and 15 by individual members of the public. A further breakdown by type of respondent is set out in the table below.
|Table 1: Responses Received by Type of Respondent|
|Respondent Type||Number||% of respondents|
|Registered Social Landlords||22||19%|
|Tenant and resident groups||18||16%|
|Campaign and third sector organisations, including advice and mediation services||15||13%|
|Legal firms or representative groups||7||6%|
|Lettings agents, private landlords and their representative groups||7||6%|
|Housing representative agencies and bodies||4||3%|
|Other representative agencies and bodies||5||4%|
2.3 Of particular note in terms of the profile of respondents is:
- Consultation responses were received from housing-related representative bodies across the public and third sectors (including the Association of Local Authority Chief Housing Officers, the Chartered Institute of Housing Scotland, the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations and the Glasgow and West of Scotland Forum of Housing Associations) and for the private rented sector (including the Scottish Association of Landlords, Scottish Land & Estates).
- 23 out of 32 local authorities submitted a consultation response, including transfer and non-stock transfer areas.
- 22 RSLs submitted a response (in addition to RSL representative bodies). This included a range of organisations in terms of geographic location, and focus (e.g. local, regional and national landlords). It is notable that most RSL respondents have a general needs focus.
- 18 responses were received from tenant and resident groups. This included a number of tenant networks, and one body representing private rented sector tenants specifically.
2.4 A list of the groups that responded to the consultation is included as an annex to this report.
General comments from respondents
2.5 Additional written comments provided by some respondents included general comments which did not relate directly to a specific consultation question, but which had relevance to the scope of the consultation. This included some comments welcoming the consultation, although a small number questioned the timing of the consultation as not having allowed time for civil court reforms to be implemented before considering a potential need for a housing panel. The majority of respondents agreed with the analysis set out in the consultation document, identifying a need for improvement to the current dispute resolution system. Specific reference was made to:
- The lack of relative priority given to housing-related dispute cases within the Sheriff courts;
- A lack of consistency in the way that current legislation is being applied from Sheriff to Sheriff;
- A lack of housing specialism and knowledge in consideration of housing dispute cases through Sheriff courts;
- The length of time taken for some cases to be concluded, and the level of resources that may be required to see a case through. The impact on communities of lengthy delays in evicting tenants for antisocial behaviour offences was also noted;
- The suitability of an adversarial approach to some housing dispute cases, and difficulties that some tenants have in engaging with the dispute resolution system as currently operated through courts; and
- The potential for reduced availability of legal aid which could constrain individuals' access to justice in housing dispute cases.
Email: Paul Sloan